In the beginning, there were ketchup fights
Winning in relationships is a universal desire. I don’t meet anyone that doesn’t want their relationships at home, work and in the community to be warm, welcoming and have a sense of winning. My husband and I were no different when we moved to SWFL and set out to make new friends. To that end, we had invited another couple we met at our new church for dinner. I suppose the pressure of making a good impression had gotten to us because we had been bickering all afternoon. By the time our guests arrived, and we sat down to dinner we were hardly speaking to each other. A gourmet spread of bratwurst and burgers were on the table. Don’t judge. LOL. We were young. We had even splurged on the bratwurst with cheese inside. It was with the bratwursts that things blew up…literally.
As my husband took a bite of his bratwurst, cheese squirted out and practically up his nose. (so much for first impressions). Our guests nervous and unsure whether to laugh or hand him a napkin, sat awaiting the appropriate response. At that moment, I could no longer contain my pent up emotions and busted out laughing. Accordingly, my husband decided to join me in letting out his pent-up emotions and proceeded to squirt ketchup up and down my blouse. I kindly returned the favor with the nearby mustard bottle. Luckily the war ended in a room full of laughter and decades later that couple is still in our closest circle of friends.
What winning really looks like in relationships
Indeed, ketchup fights make for a good story to tell, but in general, it’s not high on the list for winning in relationships. In the decades since that ketchup fight, I’ve learned three important keys to winning in relationships.
- Identify the goal for the relationship. Whether you are partnering in marriage or partnering with someone at work on a project, it’s important to recognize what the goal for that relationship is. When we keep the goal top of mind, then the little frustrations don’t bother us that much. Also, talking openly about the goal can make addressing frustrations even easier. In essence, it puts each of you together vs. the goal instead of you vs. them.
- Seek to learn the wisdom they have. Every individual you meet contains knowledge you don’t have. Their personality, life experiences, etc. all come together as a unique individual that is different than yourself. Recognizing the importance of that, you can seek to learn the wisdom that you currently don’t have.
- Expressing compassion for the wisdom they don’t have. Just as they are a unique individual, so are you. With that in mind, you also have wisdom that you can bring to the conversation. Once you have taken the time to listen and learn from them, they will be more likely to do the same with you. In fact, if you speak with compassion and not condescension, you’ll find that the relationship is winning!
Grab your journal; it’s your turn to grow
Take a few moments and reflect on your key relationships and journal the following questions:
- List three key relationships in life and at work. Reflecting on those, what are the goal(s) of each relationship.
- What can you seek to learn from each individual that will help you in your life? In the relationships?
- In disagreements in these relationships, what does expressing compassion vs. condescending look like?